2015 Student Essay Contest

2015 student essay contest

"Technology gives us power, but it does not and cannot tell us how to use that power. Thanks to technology, we can instantly communicate across the world, but it still doesn't help us know what to say."

--Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (1948-)

2015 Essay Winners


Winning Essay Grades 4-5
Day Nya Paw,
Grade 4, International School 45, Buffalo, NY
Teachers: Elena Zelfond and Elizabeth Vari
People have used technology for centuries, and it was used in different ways. Some technology was used for communication, education, and farming. Nevertheless, technology was also used to destroy. I am fortunate to use technology for learning and communication.People can use technology to learn things that they do not know. For example, I was not good at using an iPad for projects, but then I practiced at school and at home. Finally, I got better and was able to use my iPad well because practice makes it perfect! I was also not good at using a search engine and typing, but then I continued practicing, and learned how to use a computer well.

Even though technology can help people in many different ways, we have to remember that we have to make decisions ourselves because technology cannot do it on its own. For instance, if I have a difficult Math problem, I use a calculator to help, but the calculator cannot do it alone. I have to press the adding, subtracting or multiplication symbols, so then it helps me do my homework. We can also use technology to communicate with other people who live in another country. People did not have such an opportunity before. However, technology cannot helps us on its own because technology does not know whom we want to call and what we have to say. We have to dial a phone number, and then technology helps us. In conclusion, there are different kinds of technology. Clearly, people in the past hundreds of years also used technology, but the technology that they used was different from the technology we use now in 2015. It is important to understand that people have to do the work, and technology can help with the work, but technology cannot decide instead of us. Let's use technology wisely!


Honorable Mention Essay Grades 4-5
Erika Takeuchi, Grade 5, Harrison Avenue Elementary School, Harrison NY
Teacher: Mrs. Denise Riggio
It started snowing when my mom was typing an e-mail to her mother. She looked at me and asked if I wanted to write to my friend in Japan. Just then, the screen went dark. My mom com- plained that it's the third time we have gotten the virus in our computer. We purchased a security system, but it didn't work at all. Sounds familiar? This is an example of a typical situation for computer users. We all come across computer obstacles at least once in life! Even though technology is really advanced these days, it can't meet every single person in the world's expectations. So, even though computer obstacles are sometimes stressful, don't think that it's useless or vain. Think about how much it does for you! Here is another example that might change your thoughts.

Well, after the virus event, we actually used my I-Pad Mini to solve the problem. My mom e-mailed her brother who studies technology! Technology is good enough to solve a problem that it created. We can say technology is so faithful because it compensates its guilt. After all, technology contradicts in many ways, you know, so the best thing to do to communicate conveniently and effectively is to study learn more about it.

Winning Essay Grades 6-8
Cynthia Wu, Grade 7, Farnsworth Middle School, 6072 State Farm Road Guilderland, NY
Teacher: Ms. Linders
I still remember when I first came to America; it is the first time I leave my family at homeland. Across the sea, travel thousands of thousand miles, just for more opportunity and a better future. For me, it is just like landing to a new world, different culture, different people, and totally different language. The first two weeks, I missed my family badly, I dream about them, I cry because of them. The times goes by, then I just realize that I am lucky that I am born in the world with technology, it made me to rethink of my life, how lucky I am, my grandfather once told me that when he was young he can only write letter to my grandmother during the war, and I was amazed that it took three month to get a letter to another city. I can Skype with my mom and dad every weekend, I can text them whenever I want, I email them in English, ask them how everything is, and tell them about my life in American. It eases the pain and improved my English. Just like what Jonathan Sacks said: Thanks to technology (it opened a completely different era); I can instantly communicate across the world.


Honorable Mention Essay Grades 9-12
Jacqueline Escobar, Grade 11, Westbury High School, 1 Post Rd, Old Westbury, NY
Teacher: Ms. Melissa Carnevale
Technology, like life is a beautiful thing.Technology in many ways, has allowed me to learn more about the world. Technology in the modern world is one of life's greatest gifts. Through technology we are able to progress as a society. I myself can attest to the power that technology has given me through my personal experiences.I can recall many times that technology has helped me. First, technology has assisted me for as long as I can remember. As a child growing up in the stress of Brooklyn, technology (specifically my cell phone and tablet) was a way to communicate with my mother constantly because I was not living with her at the moment. Technology strengthened our mother and daughter relationship. It allowed us to communicate conveniently .Technology has also helped improve our life in terms of entertainment. When I came to the United State I started to listen to music. This was one way that helped me learn a new language. Technology helps us appreciate music more. Wherever you are, you can listen to music in any language.

Furthermore, technology like twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allow me the opportunity to give back to my family members when they need me. One day, I found myself overwhelmed with a grief when my aunt passed away. Technology helped me to communicate with my family and connect with them when they were far away. Though social media I was able to constantly message them. It helped me build a stronger bond with my cousin.

In addition, technology has helped me excel in my current stage of life, high school. With the use of the website, regentsprep.org, I was able to raise my grades in my classes and obtain passing scores on the regents. Technology is an important aspect for students around the world. Students use the internet to look for any kind of information that can help them. If you are searching for a definition, a specific date, or information about someone or something, you have the ever famous, google. Technology has touched every aspect of my life and made my life convenient. In conclusion, technology has had a positive impact on my life and in society. Through technology, I've grown closer to my family than ever before, I've improved academically and I'm constantly learning thanks to the internet. From personal experience, I can say that technology is a benefit to society and truly powerful.



A Honorable Mention Essay
University and Adult Education
Wenxin Zhang, Pre-College Adult Intensive ESL Program, CUNY Language Immersion
Program (CLIP), Queensborough Community College, Bayside, NY
Teacher: Anthony Pratos times go on, technology develops faster and faster and there are new inventions almost every day. But we do not think about these questions: Are technological developments always helpful to us and Do technological developments bring us any obstacles. Our life depends on technology. Most people cannot work or live without their computers, smartphones, and iPads, especially teenagers. I am the epitome of this phenomenon. I can- not stay far away from the technology because it brings me a lot of benefits. For example, when I studied abroad in Singapore, I missed my parents a lot. But technology helped me ease these painful feelings. I could chat online with my parents merely by typing messages on Whatsapp; I could communicate with my friends through Viber. And when I left Singapore, technology helped me to keep in contact with my friends who were still there. If I didn't have technology, I would not have been able to stay in touch with my family. Although technology has made it easier for us to communicate with others while we are far away from each other, it also creates obstacles by weakening the importance of real human interaction. For example, many years ago, when I was in middle school, my friends and I did not use cellphones a lot. I always went out or played with my friends, and we usually shared our stories through conversation. We talked a lot because had not met each other for a long time. But when smart phones came out, I learned to type messages to my friends and share my life with them immediately. So when we finally hung out together, we had nothing to say. Everyone just stayed silent and played with their own smartphones.

As you can see with the two aforementioned examples, sometimes technology helps us but sometimes it hinders us. When I was in Singapore, technology helped me a lot. But recently, technology has actually hindered my in-person interactions. Since we use smartphones to express our feelings moment-by-moment, they are actually making us less friendly in person. That is horrible. When we are having fun with our friends, we should remember to put our phones down and enjoy the time with them.

Technology is developing every minute. Technological advancements have brought mankind from a primitive form of life to the present high-tech age. People have changed their lifestyles from hunting to raising and breeding animals. People have also changed from picking wild fruits and vegetables to farming. Recently, people have changed from face-to-face conversation to electronic communications. All of these are the technological developments. But as my experiences show, technology has its advantages and disadvantages. Instead of relying on technology, we should harness it. It should be a tool for improving our lives, not a hindrance to real interaction. If we have the correct attitude toward technology, and if we use technology wisely, it can bring benefits to everyone.


Honorable Mention Essay Grades 6-8
Alexander Hernandez, Grade 6, Gotham Avenue School, 181 Gotham Avenue Elmont,
New York , Teacher: Diane Sais
A time when technology helped me was when my dad was in the United States and I was in Mexico. My dad wanted to see how I was doing and how big I was getting. We communicated by using Skype. At the beginning, it was hard because I dint know how to use Skype. After a few tries, I learned how to use it. Then the computer started to freeze but it didn't work. Then my uncle told me to update the website. I tried it, and it worked. After that every time my dad and I wanted to communicate we used Skype to keep in touch. Now I am living in the United States, but my grandparents in Mexico. Skype is a good way for us to keep in touch. As you can see, technology helps me keep in touch with my family. Winning Essay Grades 9-12
Shaffiou Assoumanou, Grade 12, International Community High School, Brooklyn,
NY,Teacher: Nick Deming

Communication is the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior (thefreedictionary.com). Communication is vital in our life. Nothing can be possible in this life without communication. All of our daily activities and everything we do use every day always involve communication. Thanks be to God nowadays we have a widespread of technology such as computers and phones that ease and change the way we communicate which was not the same in the past decades. Despite the fact that these technologies transform our way to communicate, they are also really useful to us in overcoming our problems when we need them. I remember that time when technology helped both me and my group our ability to communicate as intended.I'm part of an organization called NYCLETEMPLAY. NYCLETEMPLAY is an organization that is fighting to end segregation and discrimination in school sports. Many students of color in the New York City go to high schools with almost no sports. Their rights to have access to high schools sports of their choice are being denied by the Public School Athletic League (PSAL). The fight started since 2011 when NYCLETEMPLAY was created. This year I was honored to be chosen as one of the leaders who will be leading the organization. On march 25th of this year, we stood in protest at City Hall. After that protest, the Dean of my school which is International Community High School and the creator of NYCLETEMPLAY was reassigned. Our college counselor was also reassigned and our media teacher was fired just because they lead students to the protest that day to fight for their rights to have access to high schools sports. When they were in the school, we were planning all our next actions and protests by having meetings together. Since they were removed, no more meetings to talk about our next actions and protests and we (The NYCLETEMPLAY student leaders) were afraid that all of our hard work since the beginning with them would serve for nothing.

That was exactly the moment where technology such as mobile phones and computers were useful to us. We decided to continue with everything making phone calls to continue planning for our next protests and everything concerning our campaign. We also created a chat group on Facebook. With our phones and computers, we were able to use the internet to connect on Facebook to talk about everything concerning our protests, to discuss about and solve some issues. Mobile phones and computer not only were useful to us in discussing about our movement but also in writing speeches. Sometimes some organizations and leaders called us to discuss with them about our campaign, sometimes we went to testify in front of the chancellor. Sometimes we had to do press conferences. In order to do that we needed to be prepare and to write something down and mobile phones and computers were what we used the most in writing our speeches.

Cameras were also one of the technology devices that helped us a lot. Everything we did in our protests, our meetings and interviews, we had to record it because we decided to make a documentary about our civil rights campaign. Before when we go to see some of our elected officials to help us, they turned us their back. Since we had a camera with us and they know that we were going to record them, they were obliged to discuss with us. These technology devices I talked about really helped us save our civil rights campaign. These technology devices helped me and my group in overcoming a lot of challenges and solving a lot of problems in our campaign. Until today they are still useful and helpful to us since we didn't meet our goal yet.


Winning Essay
University and Adult Education
Qing Wang, Haggerty English Language Program, SUNY New Paltz
Teacher: Sarah Elia
In 2003, I was 10 years old. I did not know how serious it was to use the word cold to judge my father. I just knew I cared about him. But, how could he not do anything that showed that he cared about me. I was born in a traditional Chinese business family. My father was always busy at work every day. I could not see him usually. My whole childhood was without being accompanied by my father. Fortunately, my grandfather took the responsibility from my father to spend time with me. Lying in my grandpa's lap to bask in the sunshine was one of the happiest moments in my life. But, my heart still had some emptiness.

The reason was my father. I deeply wanted he could spend time staying with me, just like grandfather. But he could not. He had never come to visit me when I was in elementary school, he had never hugged me before I went to school. Everyday, my mother sent me to school in the morning and picked me up in the afternoon. Actually, I had always hoped to meet my father after school. When I saw my classmates were picked up by their fathers, I really wished that my father was there too, so I could go back home with him. I was eager to introduce him to my classmates and tell my classmates that my father was more handsome than their father. But, I was just imagining. Until I graduated from elementary school, I did not have the chance to introduce my handsome father. After I finished elementary school, I went to middle school. I had to live on campus, and I could only go back home once a week. My mom made a big decision to comfort my fragile heart while I was away. She gave me a new phone! It was my first phone, a blue phone which could only use to make calls and send messages, but, It was the best phone in my life. I used this phone to connect with a man who I loved very much. I expressed my true feeling to him. I could not tell him how important he was in my life when we faced each other, but I was able to do it with my phone.

The important man is my father. Right when I got the phone, I wanted him to taste the power from technology. I sent a message to him and told him what I kept in my heart for 10 years. I told him how could he be so cold. I blamed him for never coming to my school to visit me, and for never saying I love you to me. Furthermore, I even educated him. I told him: I want you to be a good father. Business is not important, I am your most important part. If you do not care about me, I will do not care about you after you become old. I did not know where I got the courage to speak these words. If I were in another family, they might hit me. But my father did not punish me.

In fact, he loves me. He just did not know how to express himself. Since then, my father has become more affectionate to me. He always says he misses me. I miss him too. I made a promise about him. I will take care of my handsome father forever. That blue phone did not last for a long time because it could not keep abreast of technology. However, it still lies in my desk drawer. It recorded many good memories between a father and his daughter.


Thank you to all the teachers and students who participated in the 10th Annual NYS TESOL Essay Contest! We received a wonderful collection of essays from students across the state! Your dedication to your students is evident to us and we applaud the efforts of your students. You are all winners to us!

Anthony Prato- Queensborough Community College
Stephanie Linders - Farnsworth Middle School
Nick Deming - International Community High School
Denise Riggio- Harrison Avenue School
Melissa Carnivale- Westbury High School
Marshella Lie- Hostos Community College
Elena Zelfond - International School 45, Buffalo, NY
Sarah Elia - SUNY New Paltz
Aiko Pletch-SUNY New Paltz
Melissa Feldmann-SUNY New Paltz
James Phillips-SUNY New Paltz
Jessica Jordan - Mid-Manhattan Adult Learning Center, OACE
Tilla Alexander - Mid-Manhattan Adult Learning Center, OACE
Jennifer Wheeler - Brighton High School
Jao Da Silva - Queensborough Community College
Kimberly Vargas-Curatola-Wantagh High School
Susanne Marcus- Great Neck High School
Carol Riddle - Keio Academy of New York
Diane Sais - Gotham Avenue School, Elmont, NY
Lauren von Eckartsberg- New York Language Center
Erika Balone - West Buffalo Charter School
Marisa Evert- Wantagh Elementary School
James Phillips- Kingsborough Community College
Katie Goldacker- Connetquot High School
Daniel J. Uebbing - English as a New Language,Phelps-Clifton Springs CSD
Katy Lyle - BMCC, CUNY
Anna M. Necakov- New York Language Center


Winners were be honored at our 45th NYS TESOL Annual Conference in White Plains, New York. For more information about NYS TESOL, please visit our homepage at www.nystesol.org


Winners from Past Years

9th Annual, 2014
Theme: "A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special." --Nelson Mandela

8th Annual, 2013
Theme: "Be the change you want to see in the world" -Gandhi

7th Annual, 2012
Theme: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

6th Annual, 2011
Theme: How has your community helped you learn English?

5th Annual, 2010
Theme: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

4th Annual, 2009
Theme: What aspects of American culture do you find to be different from your culture?

3rd Annual, 2008
Theme: What aspects of American culture do you find to be different from your culture?

2nd Annual, 2007
Theme: My Growth as an English Language Learner

1st Annual, 2006
Theme: A famous Chinese Proverb states, “A teacher can open the door, but the student must enter on their own.” How does this quotation illustrate your experience learning English?